Readers, relatives, and friends often ask me what advice do I need to make a successful trip? “Given your experience, you probably have some tips and tricks to share with us”…
Instead, this article should be called “best tips to make sure you don’t miss your trip” because no matter what advice you follow, the success of your trip depends on you alone. Successful travel is a very personal concept, as I explain in The Myth of the Perfect Journey. It is your subjective perception, your mood, your state of mind, the atmosphere… that will determine your overall feeling about the success of your trip.
Nevertheless, there are some tips that can help you avoid problems that could affect your experience. Here are my tips to put all the chances on your side to have a great holiday!
Choose your destination carefully
This first advice may seem obvious, but it is crucial: it is the basis of everything. To choose your destination, all you have to do is let yourself dream a little, pick from your Bucket List, play darts on a world map or take advantage of attractive promotions…
Choosing your destination with full knowledge of the facts
The pleasure of dreaming in front of the atlas must be accompanied by a minimum of information research.
For example, it is better to find out about the political situation in the potential destination country (war, revolution, coup d’état, etc.).
The choice of destination will also sometimes involve vaccinations, advised or mandatory, as well as the need to have a passport or even a visa. All these steps require a certain amount of anticipation and therefore limit “last minute” departures.
Choose your date: find out about the climate
Beyond the choice of destination as such, the choice of dates is also important. Some destinations have two main seasons, the monsoon and the dry season. Discovering a country in one or the other will not be the same experience at all.
Choose your date: find out about holidays and holidays
And apart from the climate, choosing dates wisely helps to avoid the high tourist seasons. School holidays are always important tourist times, but it is also advisable to find out about local holidays, as well as festivals and events in the destination country.
Being flexible, both in terms of dates and destination, also allows you to take advantage of more attractive prices.
Anticipate the financial side
Setting aside a budget for your trip allows you to define a clear framework and anticipate your stay by setting aside money so that you don’t (too) deprive yourself on the spot. I would find it a pity to reach the end of the world and not be able to take advantage of it to discover the country as I wish, due to a lack of resources.
Personally, I created a bank account only for our travels: we have been setting aside for 5 years for our “Back To America” project (while continuing to travel in the meantime).
One destination is not the other: the budget for a month in Bolivia or Japan will certainly not be the same! If you have chosen your destination and have an idea of what you want to do there, find out about the cost of living on-site and the cost of tourism activities, in order to establish a budget.
Which credit cards?
The budget is not the only point of attention to have: think about the accounts and bank cards you will use: are there specific procedures for withdrawing abroad? Are the accounts afloat?
We always leave with cards linked to different accounts (in case one of them is inaccessible, hacked…) and with two credit cards, stored in different bags (loss, theft…).
Do you need to bring local currency? If so, it is not always necessary to obtain it before departure: distributors are often present at the destination airport. For more peace of mind for long-distance travel, it is always possible to take a few US dollars, the currency used (by tourists) all over the world.
Make Sure to take all your documents
Several documents are necessary or recommended to travel with peace of mind. The basis of everything: identity documents (identity card or passport depending on the destination).
Tips and tricks
In addition to checking the validity dates (be careful, often you have to travel with a valid passport at least 6 months after the return date!), here are some tips to be prepared for the worst (loss or theft of your documents).
Choose and book your modes of transport carefully
Although very popular for distant destinations, flying is not the only option available to travellers. Be careful when booking your flight/car/… before confirming, check the cities chosen, the dates, the connections and all the possible options (luggage included? insurance? extra costs? taxes included?…). Price should therefore not be the only criterion for choice.
Some online comparators, such as Momondo, can help you in your search and even alert you, via an alert system, to the update of prices for the flight you are looking for.
Especially, whether it is for accommodation or transportation, take the time to analyze the different options before making your choice. It may sound stupid, but sometimes, in the haste and excitement of booking, you can lower your guard and make mistakes through negligence…
Tips for booking your flight ticket
To enjoy a pleasant flight, choosing your seat on the plane is important, especially if you travel together in order to stay together. Particular attention must also be paid to correspondence.
Choosing the right accommodation
In general, the situation of his accommodation will have a major role in the travel experience. Being well centred allows you to experience the liveliness of the city… with its good and bad sides: the closer you are to the points of interest, the higher the prices and the more likely it is that the neighbourhood will be noisy.
Which formula to choose?
The choice of accommodation is also sometimes accompanied by the choice of the formula: breakfast included, half board or full board. We tend to prefer the first option (or even not to take anything at all most of the time). Full board is often a reason to return to the hotel more often to enjoy these “free” meals, which limits the discovery of the region and the diversity of gastronomic experiences.
Choose your travel partners wisely
Going alone or accompanied changes the dynamics of the trip, the second type of project requiring an additional step in the preparation of the trip: choose your companions well! It is better to go alone than badly accompanied… I talk about it with humour in the article on the worst travelling companions.
More seriously, going with one or more people also requires more thought: that everyone knows what they expect from this trip and communicates it to others in order to avoid unpleasant surprises once they get there. A trip as a couple or with friends is a good balance to find between fulfilling your desires and compromising.